Empire Falls

Russo, Richard

(Book - 2002)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Empire Falls
With Empire Falls Richard Russo cements his reputation as one of America's most compelling and compassionate storytellers. Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it's Janine, Miles' soon-to-be ex-wife, who's taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it's the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town-and seems to believe that "everything" includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2002.
Edition: 1st Vintage Contemporaries ed.
ISBN: 0375726403
Characteristics: 483 p. ;,21 cm.


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Aug 27, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Russo is the Dickens of small town American life. Turned into an HBO film with Paul Newman and Ed Harris.

Jun 26, 2014
  • GOGETA1946 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This Pulitzer novel stirred so many emotions in me that some times I had to walk away from it because I was becoming so 'involved'. Enjoyed it so much that I borrowed the HBO movies, which having combined some scenes (as book adaptation usually do), was still an extremely enjoyable viewing.

Jul 12, 2013
  • dbrh852 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book takes some patience while the story develops, but it is worth the investment of time. All of the characters are richly developed and memorable. Subtle humor throughout...our book group found many thought provoking topics to discuss out of this story.

Jun 14, 2013
  • modestgoddess rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

First time I tried to read this, I resented it for not being Straight Man, which I loved. Just tried again - couldn't put it down. Russo reveals his characters and builds his situations in a measured, thoughtful way. I found it utterly compelling. (Did feel he cheated a bit at the major crisis, but I can forgive him for that...!) Full of interest and moment. Really a great read.

Dec 28, 2011
  • Ljubica81 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Great characters, good read.

May 19, 2011
  • ksoles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I always felt out of the loop for having not read Empire Falls, the Pulitzer winner of 2002 that received thunderous critical acclaim. I'm pleased to now be up to speed and to know what all the fuss is about! Having said that, Russo's book gets off to a slow start; its prologue is exceedingly dull and the first 150 pages feature unlikable characters introduced in a chaotic fashion combined with chapters of extended flashbacks. Had I not said to myself, "I know this has to get better," I would have probably given up.

However, I'm certainly glad I persevered as the plot becomes engaging, the dialogue turns realistic and understatedly hilarious, and the relationships among the characters grow in complexity and tenderness. At the centre, protagonist Miles Roby remains troubled, exasperating, genuine and completely relatable.

The 500 page novel deals with an impressive array of social issues from childhood hurts to economics (the title becomes literal as an Empire indeed falls) to small town mentality to the importance of following one's dreams. And the shocking, rather disturbing ending reveals both the hatred and the love of which humans are capable. Ultimately, the novel has a lot in common with the town it depicts: both are quirky, unpretentious and full of desire. After all, the omniscient narrator asks, "what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their heart's impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble?"

Feb 04, 2010
  • DoyneM rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Love this book! One of Russo's best!

Oct 05, 2009
  • bestedgefan rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Richly developed characters make for an enjoyable read.

Dec 06, 2007
  • Cabby rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer prize for fiction.


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